What is a Steam Deck?

Game being played on Steam Deck - what is a Steam Deck?
Credit: Valve

Game being played on Steam Deck - what is a Steam Deck?
Credit: Valve

If somehow, you are yet to stumble across one, you may be wondering what a Steam deck is. If that's the case, then worry no more, for your questions are about to be answered.

In this article, we'll run through exactly what you need to know about the Steam Deck - what it is, what games are available on it, and what the differences are between models.

If you need to know what is a Steam Deck, we’ll go through everything you need to know.

What is a Steam Deck?

To begin, as is the usual way, at the beginning: the Steam Deck is a handheld gaming PC made by Valve, the company between the Steam gaming store.

A simple analogy is to think of it as being like a Nintendo Switch, but for PC games. Players can use it to play their favourite PC games while they are out and about, instead of being restricted to playing on their desktop or laptop computers.

The Steam Deck first became available back in February 2022, and the demand was intense. Fans who were eager to get their hands on one had to join a waiting list, where they would eventually receive an invitation to place an order.

And while the waiting game isn't perhaps the one players want to play, for those who have managed to get a Steam Deck, it appears that the wait has been worth it.


The Steam deck runs on SteamOS, which is based on Linux. It includes all the features you might expect - Steam chat, cloud saves, remote play, the Steam store, and notifications. You can view the full tech specs here, but the key things you need to know are as follows:

In display terms, the Steam deck offers a 7-inch 1280x800 screen, with a 60Hz refresh rate and 400 nits brightness.

It runs using an AMD APU, with four cores, eight threads, and a CPU clock speed of 2.4GHz to 3.5GHz.

In terms of storage, you can have 64GB, 256GB or 512GB, depending upon which model you order. We'll explain a little more in-depth further down.

What games are available on Steam Deck?

Arguably the single most important question in relation to the Steam deck is about which games are available to play on it. And the answer is any game that is listed on the Deck Verified list. Valve is in the process of reviewing all the games in the Steam catalogue.

Once reviewed, they are categorized depending on how compatible each game is. A green tick means the game is fully verified and will have full functionality on the Steam Deck. A yellow tick means that a game is playable, but won't have full functionality. And finally, a circle with a line through it means that a game is incompatible with the Steam Deck.

But there's more. Steam Deck emulation is also possible. compatible with a variety of emulators, meaning that players can also a wide variety of classic games that might otherwise be unavailable.

In other words, there are a lot of games available for Steam Deck. Probably more than you'd ever actually have time to get through.

Differences between models

As we alluded to above, there are different versions of the Steam Deck available to purchase. The differences between them come down to two factors: memory size, and memory type.

The 64GB model comes with an eMMC hard drive, while the 256GB and 512GB versions both offer an SSD instead. In basic terms, this means that these larger-capacity models will generally perform faster, and players should expect to see shorter loading times, for example.

So there you have it - the key aspects of the Steam Deck explained. If you're someone who likes the idea of playing PC games on the go, then this may be the perfect handheld for you. You can even check out our comparison of the Steam Deck vs Nintendo Switch if you want to see how the two differ.

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